By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON, April 8 (Reuters) - U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will kick off a two-day visit to Utah on Thursday where she will meet with tribes and political officials to discuss the potential restoration of two national monuments that were slashed in size by former President Donald Trump in order to open them to miningand drilling.
The visit is the centerpiece of Haalands first multi-state tour since being confirmed last month as the first Native American cabinet member, and will hold symbolic power given the importance of the monuments to Southwestern tribes.
Haaland, whose job gives her oversight of Americas vast public and tribal lands, will visit Utahs San Juan and Kane counties to discuss the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments as part of a review of their boundaries launched by Joe Biden on the Democrat president's first day in office, according to the Interior Department.
Trump, a Republican, had cut the size of the two formerly massive monuments by 2 million acres (8,000 square kilometers) combined at the request of Utah's Republican lawmakers, removing protections that had hindered ranching, drilling, mining, and other development in an area twice the size of the state of Rhode Island.